The National Catholic Review
Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of miceit is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrancesbut it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.

Mary Oliver, National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winner, lives in Provincetown, Mass. Her works include American Primitive, the two-volume New and Selected Poems and At Blackwater Pond. This poem, published here for the fir

Comments

Katharine Byrne | 10/31/2006 - 2:59pm
Twice now during the past week, a squirrel has eaten away parts of my windowsill and gnawed four-inch holes in the screen to facilitate its entry to my house.

Yes, I have read with appreciation Mary Oliver’s poem “Making the House Ready for the Lord” (9/25). “Come in, come in,” she says to animals seeking shelter as winter dawns on a snowy world.

And what is my response? Unlike the poet, I have for God’s creatures who live out there in my yard a lesser and imperfect love that stops upon my doorstep. Beyond that boundary I offer a crust of last night’s pizza, nuts and suet, apples, whole wheat bread crumbs. To these you are welcome. Help yourself, I say, but keep your distance. This house is mine. For the limits to my hospitality, may the Lord forgive me.

And another thing: Stop digging up my daffodils.

Katharine Byrne | 10/31/2006 - 2:59pm
Twice now during the past week, a squirrel has eaten away parts of my windowsill and gnawed four-inch holes in the screen to facilitate its entry to my house.

Yes, I have read with appreciation Mary Oliver’s poem “Making the House Ready for the Lord” (9/25). “Come in, come in,” she says to animals seeking shelter as winter dawns on a snowy world.

And what is my response? Unlike the poet, I have for God’s creatures who live out there in my yard a lesser and imperfect love that stops upon my doorstep. Beyond that boundary I offer a crust of last night’s pizza, nuts and suet, apples, whole wheat bread crumbs. To these you are welcome. Help yourself, I say, but keep your distance. This house is mine. For the limits to my hospitality, may the Lord forgive me.

And another thing: Stop digging up my daffodils.

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